Washington D.C. Things to Do and Safety for Solo Female Travelers
Washington D.C. is one of the best destinations solo female travelers can visit. The city is safe and filled with attractions focused on history, art, and culture. There are countless world-class museums and American monuments. A trip to D.C. lets you see some of the most iconic and historical parts of the United States. You’ll also be able to find a good deal of entertainment and cuisine with top rated theaters and restaurants.
In this article you’ll find everything you need to prepare for your dream vacation to Washington D.C., including best time to visit, weather, the most popular attractions, and things to do, where to stay, areas of caution, safety tips for women traveling solo, transportation while in D.C., and current covid restrictions.
Things to Know About Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. isn’t a state, it’s a district. The “D.C.” stands for District of Columbia. It sits between Maryland and Virginia and is home to the capital of the United States. The city itself was created as home to the U.S. government, but it has developed into one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. You can tour places like the White House, see real money getting printed, check out the spy museum, or even visit the Smithsonian Zoo.
There’s a reason so many movies choose D.C. as the setting (think Night at the Museum or National Treasure). It’s beautiful and historical. The city is also packed with foreign embassies, making it one of the most diverse places in the world too. Over 160 languages are spoken in D.C.
One thing to know while planning is that a trip to Washington D.C. will cost you a bit more money than other state-side destinations, so plan to spend a little more when booking flights/hotels and checking out attractions.
Weather In Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. has mild weather compared to other states in the U.S. However, you can expect cold winters and muggy summers. Season changes are relatively unpredictable, but for the most part skies are clear and blue. The coldest month is January with highs around 45°F and lows around 25°F. The hottest month is July with highs around 89°F and lows around 68°F. The summer months have uncomfortably high humidity. The winter months in D.C. have lots of cold Arctic winds.
Best Time to Visit Washington D.C.
The best times for visiting Washington D.C. are between September and November or between March and May. These are the tourist high points with more comfortable weather and lots of nature and sun. Expect crowds and higher prices on tickets and hotels. Visiting during the busy season is better for women traveling solo because more tour groups are available during these times.
For those with a tighter budget, the cheapest time to visit Washington D.C. is in late September.
Must See Attractions and Things to Do in Washington D.C.
What makes Washington D.C. so great for solo travelers is the attractions. While other cities require lots of travel between shad and hard-to-find attractions, D.C. is incredibly accessible. The attractions, unlike in other places, are designed to be enjoyed by both families and those traveling alone, with or without a tour group. One other plus is that because all the attractions are so popular and famous, you won’t have any trouble finding out where you want to go and how to get there.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
One of the best-known museums in the world, the Smithsonian homes centuries of world history. The Museum houses and cares for over 126 million artifacts which range from stunning gems to ancient Egyptian mummies. This is just one of the 17 Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. though, so if natural history isn’t your thing, you have plenty of other options.
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
Opened in 2016, this museum became the 19th museum (17 in D.C.) included within the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibits focus exclusively on the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. This important institution helps promote and celebrate African American stories and histories and how they are a vital segment of American history.
This iconic, historical American building does more than seat the Congress and the House of Representatives. The Capitol also contains a historic collection of American art and displays its architectural splendor through every corner and hallway. It serves as a working office building as well as a place tourist attraction.
Styled after Greek revival architecture, this stunning memorial of the United States’ sixteenth president is an eye-catching monument which draws tourists and natives alike. The building commemorates the reunification of the United States after the Civil War. The building materials including marble, tile, and other furnishings were harvested from over six different symbolic parts of the country. The Lincoln Memorial also commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous “I have a dream” speech.
Admission is free and so is the learning you’ll receive through touring this amazing gallery. The permanent collection of the National Gallery includes over 150,000 works of inspirational art. They also host a myriad of changing collections. The gallery offers tours to help you learn, or you can wander to your heart’s content. You can admire the span of human creativity as you walk the many halls.
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The word genocide was not created until 1944. The museum helps remember the difficult realities of World War II as well as help bring awareness to how genocide poisons countries around the globe. Educate yourself about the darkest parts of human history to help forge a brighter future by touring the many exhibits offered. The museum, though a difficult experience, is well worth it.
The Library of Congress is not only the largest library in America, but also the largest library in the world. It houses millions of forms of media from photographs to audio recordings. The library helps seasoned researchers as well as average information searchers with opportunities to find the truths they seek. With so many different preservations of creativity—it’s hard to visit and not find inspiration.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The most famous part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the dark granite wall which displays over 58,000 names of Americans who sacrificed their lives in the late 20th century Vietnam War. You can walk the wall of names and honor the memories of those who gave their lives for freedom.
The National Mall in Washington D.C. includes many locations in the National Park System and displays around one hundred memorials and monuments, these include the Vietnam and Korean Veterans Memorials and the famous Washington Monument. Many of the Smithsonian Museums are also found along the National Mall.
Where to Stay in Washington D.C.
The safest areas to stay for women travelers are Dupont Circle, Penn Quarter, Downtown, Foggy Bottom, Woodley Park, or Crystal City. These areas have lower than average crime rates and better accommodations.
For convenience and safety, try to book your hotels near metro stations. You can also look to stay outside the city for more affordable accommodations.
Areas of Caution
Overall, Washington D.C. is a safe city. Crime does occur, but usually not in tourist areas. According to Areavibes, the most dangerous neighborhoods in Washington D.C. are Deanwood, Brentwood, Anacostia, U Street Corridor, Stadium-Armory, Shaw, South West, LeDroit Park, and Petworth. Avoid Northeast Washington as much as possible, even if they offer cheaper prices or market themselves close to popular attractions, these areas are very dangerous.
For solo travelers Washington D.C., we recommend avoiding these areas as much as possible. Don’t book lodging in these areas and be extra cautious if going through these areas.
Safety Tips for Visiting Washington D.C.
Is Washington D.C. safe for solo travel? Yes. Stick to the popular touristy areas and you can have full confidence walking around alone. The many attractions (both indoors and outdoors) make the city safe for females to comfortably walk around alone.
- Keep your guard up on public transportation.
- Pickpocketing is common on transportation and in crowded areas.
- Muggings occur in the popular nightlife areas, so be extra weary.
- Don’t go exploring parts of the city you aren’t familiar with.
- Keep trip plans to tourist locations.
Transportation in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. uses a unique layout for its streets which were designed to confuse invaders. GPS maps make it a lot easier today, but the streets can still be difficult for those visiting. The crash rate in D.C. is twice that of the national average, and traffic is usually packed around tourist attractions.
The best way to get around Washington D.C. isn’t to drive, but rather to use the city’s well developed public transportation system. The metro/subway and buses can get you just about anywhere you need to go. You can also book tours which can take you from destination to destination without the use of public transportation at all. Tours are the safer option for solo female travelers, but don’t provide as much scheduling freedom. Taxis are also available but cost significantly more money.
Covid Restrictions and Guidelines
You can check out the Washington D.C. official travel page for the most up-to-date information about restrictions and guidelines.
Washington D.C. is fully open and doesn’t require vaccinations or masks in public. Individual establishments may have their own protocols. Facemasks are not required on public transportation.
Travelers from outside the U.S. will need pre-flight testing and get another test within 3-5 days of arrival.